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Global Perspective

The Power of Hope

Thoughts on Peace & Human Rights—Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Daisaku Ikeda

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentinian activist, artist and writer. Illustration by RickyHadi / Fiverr.

Ikeda Sensei has had dialogues with leading figures throughout the world to advance peace. To date, more than 80 of his dialogues have been published in book form. The following excerpts are from The Power of Hope (pp. 151–54).

Returning to Our ‘True Roots’

Sensei meets with Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and his wife in Tokyo, December 1995. Photo by Seikyo Press.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel: I am reminded of an African proverb: “If you don’t know where you’re going, go back to find out where you come from.” When along our journey through life we lose sight of our destination, returning to our starting point helps us see where we are going. …

Daisaku Ikeda: No matter what happens, we must keep in mind the starting point. Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi always said that when you reach an impasse, you must return to your starting point. The starting point to which the human race must return is a genuinely human spirituality.

Esquivel: We should know how to see what exists but is invisible to our eyes, to discover the spirit inhabiting each of us. …

We follow different roads in search of the “land of no evil,” the promised land where we can build our common home. If we do not know where our house is, it is because we are lost.

How do we find it? We must seek a road to the common home of the human family, and that road is the road of spirituality and the road of peace.

There is no home without spirituality. It is within ourselves, in our interior realm that we must awaken to compassion.

Without compassion, we will not find the road to our common home. …

Ikeda: We must return to our true roots—the “common home” you speak of, the starting point for all human beings, transcending ethnicity and nationality. To accomplish that, we must change our way of life at the most fundamental level, to one of harmonious cooperation aiming for the happiness of both ourselves and other people.

You talk of searching for the “land of no evil” to build our common home. Where is that place?

In 1993, the year after the Los Angeles race riots, I visited the United States, where I dedicated to my friends there a long poem entitled “The sun of jiyu over a new land”:

As each group seeks their separate
roots and origins,
society fractures along a thousand fissure lines.
When neighbors distance themselves
from neighbors,
continue your uncompromising quest
for your truer roots
in the deepest regions of your lives.
Seek out the primordial “roots” of humankind.
Then you will without fail discover
the stately expanse of jiyu
unfolding in the depths of your life.

Here is the home, the dwelling place
to which humankind traces
its original existence—
beyond all borders,
beyond all differences of gender and race.
Here is a world offering true proof
of our humanity.[1]

The Lotus Sutra, the core of Mahayana Buddhism, teaches that everyone is a part of the fundamental life force permeating all things and phenomena in the universe, endowed with inherent dignity. This essential nature of human beings is represented in the Lotus Sutra as great bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth (jiyu) to save all beings, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth possess four functions, manifesting the forces of the universe as symbolized by the four traditional elements of fire, wind, water and earth.

First, like fire that blazes heavenward, illuminating everything around, they lead forward along the right path, igniting courage in people’s hearts and dispelling darkness with the light of wisdom.

Second, like wind that blows boundlessly, they drive all obstacles from their paths, moving freely and unrestrictedly with powerful life force.

Third, like cool, clear, flowing water, they possess an undefiled and pure life, flowing into and cleansing our society rife with anger, greed and other earthly desires.

Fourth like the earth that nurtures all growing things, they protect all people with impartiality and manifest compassion to all equally.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

(November 26, 1931–)

Notable Achievements

Argentinian activist, community organizer, artist and writer.

Established the “Service, Peace and Justice” foundation in 1974, an organization committed to defending Latin American people who had been deprived of their human rights.

Led a nonviolent movement after the 1976 military overthrow of the Argentinian government, when thousands of civilians suspected of opposing the regime were detained and killed.

Suffered 14 months of torture and prison for speaking out against the military government’s human rights abuses.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his efforts to protect human rights.


  1. Daisaku Ikeda, Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), p. 241. ↩︎

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